And now let’s look as these sites in a slightly wider context, which will explain where they came from and why constituents use them.
In the age of the internet, we’re seeing everything change, fast. From pizza delivery to holiday booking, there’s no sector that isn’t experiencing new ideas — disruptive technology, they call it: questioning everything, looking for better efficiencies, and all through digital means.
Politics is no different. As an MP, or someone who helps an MP to communicate, there’s a particular branch of innovation that you need to know about: Civic Technology.
Broadly speaking, Civic Technology refers to digital tools which encourage participation and engagement in the democratic process, empowering citizens to get their voice heard.
It’s a worldwide movement that’s been growing organically for the past couple of decades, starting as an independent force, but which has now been recognised and built upon by many governments around the world.
Civic Technologies include simple concepts such as making voter information easier to access; and more ambitious ideas such as participatory budgeting and even crowdsourced constitution-writing.
Or, as with the work of mySociety, online tools that allow citizens to:
- Communicate with their elected politicians by the means that they find easiest and most direct.
- Access a neutral, factual website where anyone can find out who represents them, how any MP has voted, what they’ve said in debates… and all without having to be any kind of expert in the field.
This movement will affect all MPs. It will affect their staff. It has already affected large proportions of the population.
Embrace it, and your constituents will have better access to democracy, and more interaction with their MP.